WKU bomb threat Yik Yak ‘joke’ ends in incarceration; WKU police debunk YOUR online anonymity
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – One Western Kentucky University student’s idea of a practical joke ended with handcuffs, a felony charge, and a six-thousand dollar bond.
When 20-year-old small-town sorority sister Hailee Reed posted to social media Wednesday, she expected a few laughs, and maybe some upvotes. Instead, she ended the day behind bars facing a newfound first-degree terroristic threatening charge.
Reed’s “joke”? a post on Yik Yak alluding to a hidden bomb on campus. The post on the “anonymous” website spurred panic across campus; professors and students feared for their lives while WKU Police launched a full-scale investigation.
WKU Chief of Police Mitch Walker was not laughing at Reed’s Yik Yak post.
“It’s not a joking matter, especially on a college campus,” said Walker.
Astonishingly, WKU Police say this is nothing new. A handful of Hilltoppers have posted “jokes” about bomb or shooting threats, many hiding behind the social media’s surface-level anonymity.
Despite common misconceptions, when it comes to Yik Yak threads, deleted Snapchats, or even trashed texts, privacy isn’t always a luxury when you break the law.
Lowder & McGill attorney Brian Lowder noted, “I don’t think there is truly such a thing as anonymity anymore with the technology out there to trace social media, IP addresses, and that sort of thing.”
At the end of the day, the dark humor you might find funny could end up causing real consequences.
“People take [threatening posts] very seriously, and they start to panic,” said Walker. “Fear sets in, and it really ties up a lot of law enforcement…. Please don’t do that. It’s not something we should joke about.”